seeing red

(reading: pt 2)

RIO DE JANEIRO — The chants at the game between Spain and Chile began slowly, first from one side of Estádio do Maracanã, then from the other. 1.

“E-lim-i-na-do! E-lim-i-na-do!” — eliminated — said those fans, who were leaping so wildly in their red shirts that they made the stands look like a supersize swath of roiling scarlet cloth. But those fans were not wearing the red jerseys of Spain, the defending World Cup champion and two-time European champion. They were wearing the red shirts of Chile, which eliminated Spain from this tournament in the first round, after Spain had played two games. 2. read on
choose from A-H, there is one extra.
A.But when you think about it, was it simply because they didn’t have any great soccer left in them?
B.Besides, a younger generation is waiting.
C.They were led out by the police.
D.It was a beautiful day for it with the sun shining brightly above.
E.By the time the final minutes had ticked off the clock Wednesday, tens of thousands had joined in
F.Maybe Spain saw it coming; maybe it didn’t.
G.No past World Cup defending champion had been knocked out of the tournament so quickly.
H.It all happened so fast

Watching Chile’s 2-0 victory unfold was like seeing a prizefighter hit in the face again and again, then seeing him fall to the canvas and struggle to rise as the referee counts to 10. There’s a sense of pity in seeing a legend fall so unexpectedly, and appear so helpless.

3. First came the Spaniards losing to the Netherlands, 5-1, on Friday in their opening game. Then came Wednesday’s match, in which a death knell clanged for most of the game’s 90-plus minutes. No one expected the Spanish to show up in Brazil looking so tired and slow. Compared with the Chileans, they looked as if they were in slow motion. 4.

Seven of Spain’s 23 players competed in the all-Spanish Champions League final a few weeks ago. Ten played in the semis. In the longer view, the team has been playing and playing since winning the 2008 European championship, and several of this World Cup team’s key players — including Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas and Xavi Hernández — were on that squad. Xavi, the key figure in their midfield is 34; Casillas is 33; Xabi Alonso is 32. After so many miles on their legs and so much pressure to stay on top, their bodies might have had enough of it. No one ever said it’s easy to be the best. 5.

Afterward, Casillas said he couldn’t explain what happened and apologized to the team’s fans for disappointing them.
“They should know that we gave all we had,” he said. He added, “This squad didn’t deserve to go out like this.”

6. But for every amazing athlete and every great team, there comes an end. Sometimes, it comes slowly, the way it did for Michael Jordan when he couldn’t dazzle us with his spectacular play as much as before. And sometimes, it comes fast, like one day waking up to a pair of creaky knees that refuse to do anyone’s bidding.

Only one thing is certain: Even the best can’t avoid the end.

The Chilean fans were so riled up before the game that nearly 100 of them stormed one gate of the stadium, broke fences and sprinted into the news media center, knocking over a temporary wall in the chaos. They were led out by the police. Spain’s team went out much more quietly.

After a few final tries to control the ball, they tripped over themselves and realized their efforts were pointless. 7.. Spain’s grand squad, which had been a marvel in the sport for so many years, walked off the field in silence.

by juliet macur nytimes